CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli security officials warned that time is running out to secure the release of captured Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Corporal Gilad Shalit.
Shalit, captured June 25, 2006, in a cross-border attack on an IDF outpost near the border with the Gaza Strip, has been denied visitation by the Red Cross, family members or anyone else.
Security officials noted that the price for Shalit's release will continue to rise, as it did with the Olmert government's prisoner swap with the Lebanese-based Hezbollah terror group last July.
Israel returned five Lebanese terrorists, including convicted murderer Samir Kuntar, along with the remains for nearly 200 Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists, for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, killed during a cross-border attack by Hezbollah terrorists, which sparked the Second Lebanon War.
Hezbollah officials never revealed whether Goldwasser and Regev were still alive, keeping their families in the dark until they saw their coffins during the exchange.
Meanwhile, on Monday evening -- two days prior to the nation's observance of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to ask Shalit to forgive them for not working harder to secure his release.
"Frustrated citizens can't believe their own eyes when they see the flippant ease with which the matter of this captive soldier is pushed down to fourth or fifth place on the government's agenda," Shlomo Goldwasser, father of slain IDF reservist Ehud Goldwasser, told the crowd, who held up placards reading, "We're sorry. We want you home."
"For 824 days now, Gilad Shalit has been denied the most basic of human rights, while here talk centers daily on the human rights of the Gazans," added Noam Shalit, Gilad's father.
To date, Hamas has rejected several lists of prisoners Israel would be willing to swap for Shalit's release. The latest list included 250 of the 350 prisoners demanded by Hamas, some with "blood on their hands," that is, those convicted of killing Israelis.
Hamas's demand has grown to 1,400 prisoners, to be released in stages.
According to senior Hamas member Osama al-Muzaini, Egyptian-mediated negotiations for Shalit's return will remain at a stalemate until the terror group's demands are fully met.
"No breakthrough can be achieved before the Zionist enemy [Israel] agrees to all the conditions and all the names on the list we have handed over," al-Muzaini said.
Sources: YNet news, Haaretz